What is the Prostate's Function
This writing is of a personal yet important nature.
One of the smallest yet important parts of a man's body is called the prostate. On average the prostate (which most of us don't think about often unless problems arise) is about the size of a walnut. However, it can swell up to the size of a tennis ball if it's not functioning properly - this can cause a lot of problems, pain, and illness.
What is the prostate's function? The official description found on the National Library of Medicine website is as follows:
"The prostate's most important function is the production of a fluid that, together with sperm cells from the testicles and fluids from other glands, makes up semen. The muscles of the prostate also ensure that the semen is forcefully pressed into the urethra and then expelled outwards during ejaculation."
This small part of the male body is a powerful tool which if all is functioning properly is part of the baby making process.
What is an Enlarged Prostate and What Causes It?
An enlarged prostate is caused mostly from aging. As we age the prostate grows and grows. This aging process begins around the age of 25 and continues for the rest of the man's life.
As the prostate grows a man may experience some of the following symptoms:
● Finding it difficult to start peeing.
● Straining to pee.
● Having a weak flow of urine.
● "Stop-start" peeing.
● Peeing urgently and/or frequently.
● Getting up frequently in the night to pee.
● Accidentally leaking urine (urinary incontinence)
With time an enlarged prostate will cause pain in the groin system. The pain will range anywhere from mild to excruciating.
What Do I Do If I Suspect That My Prostate is Enlarged?
The very first thing you should do is call your doctor for testing.
There are a few methods for testing the growth of your prostate. One is a digital rectal exam. That is a method which many men seem not to like. It is often referred to as the two fingers method.
Another test is a biopsy. Believe me you do not want to be on this biopsy table. I've been on that table, and I hated it. It's almost like a form of torture. But we will expand on this a little further into the article.
Depending on the severity of the enlarged prostate the treatment can be anything from keeping an eye on it to medication or in some cases surgery.
Prostate Cancer??? 😳😳😳
Most people do not like the word cancer or the idea of any form of cancer living in their body. But prostate cancer can be treated and, in many cases, killed off.
Before we go deeper into prostate cancer, please understand that an enlarged prostate does not mean you have prostate cancer. Also, an enlarged prostate does not increase your chances of having prostate cancer. However, one of the symptoms of prostate cancer is an enlarged prostate.
Testing for Prostate Cancer
Generally, the initial testing for Prostate cancer is a simple PSA test.
The PSA test is a blood test to determine the amount of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) is in the blood.
The PSA test is generally ordered by your primary care physician. If the PSA level is 4% or higher the doctor will recommend the next step which is to see a Urologist for a biopsy. (Sidenote: My PSA level was 4.6%)
Once you are in the biopsy room the first thing you do is remove your pants and under garments then lie on the table on your side with your knees pulled up to your chest.
Next the Urologist will insert an ultrasound probe into your rectum. This is not painful. The images of the prostate will help the doctor to determine which areas need to be numbed and prepped for the biopsy procedure.
The biopsy was the worst part of the procedure for me. The spring-loaded biopsy gun quickly projects a thin needle into the prostate to extract tissue samples.
You will feel a bit of discomfort as the needle hits your prostate. But the worst part is the loud snapping sound you hear just before the needle hits. Psychologically the snapping sound makes the stinging of the needle seem much worse than it is. Twelve samples are collected so you have twelve horrendous snapping sounds and twelve stinging stabs from the needle.
The Results and The Treatment
After the biopsy is completed, you must wait for ten grueling days until you get your results.
The next step depends on your results. My results showed that four of the samples had small amounts of cancer cells in them.
Since the amount of cancer was relatively small, I had three options on the table. The first was Active Surveillance. Active surveillance may be an option for cancer that isn't causing symptoms, is expected to grow very slow and is confined to a small area of the prostate.
In active surveillance, regular follow-up blood tests, rectal exams and prostate biopsies may be performed to monitor the progression of your cancer. If tests show your cancer is progressing, you may opt for a prostate cancer treatment such as surgery or radiation.
Although the cancer that was found in my prostate was a small non-aggressive amount, I chose not to do the Active Surveillance. I made this decision because I thought; why would I want to postpone the inevitable? Why would I want to wait and let the cancer grow?
I moved on to deciding whether I want to do surgery and have the prostate removed or do radiation treatments.
I joined a prostate cancer support group on Facebook, and this was instrumental in helping me decide what to do.
The urologist referred me to a radiologist so I could become informed on radiation treatment.
After listening to the urologist and reading through the Prostate Support group I made my decision as to what I was going to do about this very personal matter.
The one thing I noticed about the guys in the support group is that almost every single one of them that had the surgery had complications with the recovery. With time the cancer came back to almost every single one of them and they ended up getting radiation treatments to kill off the recurring cancer.
My thoughts were that if I have my prostate removed and the cancer comes back, I will end up doing radiation treatments. Plus, the radiation treatments have a much lower risk of recurrence. So why not skip all the issues that come with surgery and just do the radiation.
One of the guys that had the surgery said that if I do the radiation treatment and the cancer comes back then it will be difficult to remove the prostate.
I asked the radiologist about this. He politely laughed about this and said if the cancer comes back surgery will not be an option. You would go through another series of radiation treatments. He assured me though that with the small amount of cancer I have the chances of it coming back are highly unlikely.
As of June 2023, it has been two years and nine months since I completed the radiation treatments.
The treatments were non-evasive, and the pain was minimal. The recovery period was also minimal. I still get minor swelling in the groin area. But there are medications which treat the swelling quite effectively.
On my last PSA test my result was .45% which is less than ½ of 1%. I am treading in the zero percent cancer zone.
For myself I feel I made the right decision in getting the radiation treatments. But this is a very difficult and personal decision for a guy to make and each person's decision is the right decision. You must go with what your gut tells you.
If anybody has any further questions or needs a mentor or someone to talk with, please message me on Facebook messenger. I am here for you. Here's the URL to my messenger account: https://m.me/rick.henry.104
About the Creator
Writing is a distraction for me. It takes me to places unknown that fulfill my need for intellectual stimulus, emotional release, and a soothing of the breaks and bruises of the day.
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